Today is to be a quieter day. After breakfast at the Bent St Café and Deli, we get in the car and go to the Taos Pueblo. This is the site of the “Red Elk” tribe (or so we were told by our guide (Louis)). The central place of gathering is the church, which we found out was located and built in its current location in 1850. Our guide (Louis) then led us to the cemetery, where the original church had been located. In 1847, after Governor Bent had been assassinated, the US cavalry came to the Pueblo seeking those who did the assassination. Finding the only people there to be hiding in the church behind blockaded walls, they used their cannon to try to break the blockage. When that failed, they used the cannon to lob shells over the walls and into the building inside. The Indian men, women and children having been warned of the soldiers approach, had for the most part taken off to the mountains nearby and were hiding amongst the rocks. Those who couldn’t make it that far had hidden in the church (old folks and young children), so they were the ones that were killed by the bombardment. The only thing left now on the site is the bell tower with the original bell as provided by the Spaniards and the cemetery with its many headstones. I have no pictures, as the Pueblo doesn’t allow cameras on site.
Louis takes us to a central area near the river that divides the Pueblo camp. On each side of the river there is a main building, having been built between 1000 AD and 1400 AD. These buildings are five stories high, looking like reddish brown stacked sugar cubes. There are quite a few cubes across the front, each with a door and a ladder, as well as the occasional window. The cubic rooms built one on top of another but offset. Louis tells us that the doors originally were in the roofs, as that way at the hint of any danger, the families would climb to the roof pulling the ladder up after them. The men would then use the ladder to lower the families into the rooms and establish such defensive positions as they could. This was mainly to preserve themselves from raiding parties of other Indians (Utes, Navajo, Arapaho, Cherokee, Comanche, etc.).
These blockhouses are the characteristic pueblo buildings familiar from many pictures and drawings. We soon finish the tour and find our way over to one of the houses that is indicated as open for visitors. This, not too surprisingly, houses a shop with a variety of indian-related wares for sale. We buy a piece of very pretty pottery to take with us to Michigan, and eventually back to PS.
From the pueblo, we continue on to the Millicent Rogers Museum. This is a building on the northern outskirts of Taos, where Millicent Rogers retreated after her break-up with Clark Gable. Now, before I got to this museum, I didn’t have a clue as to who this person was or why she would have a museum named after her. I find out she was the granddaughter of one of the group of men who formed Standard Oil in the late 1800s (Henry Huttleston Rogers), and because of that, she did not lack money. She was married three times, and had three sons, one by her first husband, and two by her second husband. She had no children with her third husband. Clark Gable (not a husband, but rumored along with several others to be a lover) introduced her to Taos, and she never really left there. She lived from 1902 until 1953. The museum houses several excellent exhibits reflecting her varied interests. She was a fashion icon, and there are exhibits containing some of her large collection of silver and turquoise jewelry. She designed a lot of it herself, and her wearing of it did a lot to bring such art to national and international attention. There are several exhibits related to her enduring interest in Native American Civil Rights. Exhibits in several rooms tell the story of Indian blankets and pottery. Then there is a room devoted to three Native American artists whose work depicted the pueblo life they knew. There are rooms displaying maps of what is now New Mexico, woodwork, leatherwork, weaving, and more modern artisan work. The work is displayed with a lot of information on where it came from, and how it was created, making the museum educational as well as beautiful to view.
After that, we go in search of lunch, heading toward the Guadalajara Grill, a local spot known for good Mexican food (as recommended by Steve Bundy). The food is indeed good, and we enjoy it. After that, however, we go back to the room and enjoy a quiet afternoon and evening.
Tomorrow, its on to Kansas!
Well, today is a driving day. We get out of Taos by about 8:00 am, and finally get breakfast in a small restaurant in Eagle Nest, about 45 minutes into the drive. This place is higher up in the mountains, and from the signs was more heavily populated during the skiing season. We’re driving across higher elevations, and it is spring, so there are many areas where the trees are getting their summer leaves and needles. The colors are surprisingly varied, as I usually associate this time of year with dark greens.
We keep going, and finally get to Dodge City, Kansas around 4:00 pm. Gwen finds the Boot Hill Museum and Front Street and is interested in seeing it today before it closes, so we quickly make our way there. It turns out to be exactly as advertised: the original cemetery location, and the high street of the old Dodge City recreated just as it was depicted in pictures of the town in the 1870s.
We go to the cemetery first, and learn about the people buried there. According to the signs, the first person buried there (in September 1872) was Jack Reynolds, shot six times by a track layer. The last person buried there is Alice Chambers, buried May 5, 1878 (cause of death not mentioned). Also on display in the building on the site is the office of the last U.S. Marshall of Dodge City, Kenneth Ramon House, who died in September 1998. Gwen found a picture of James Arness, Marshall Dillon of “Gunsmoke” fame.
Down from Boot Hill is Front Street, constructed to replicate the pictures of the town in the 1870’s.
Inside each store front are exhibits related to the original store that stood there, and in some (like the saloon, which starts off the street), related products are for sale. So we walk down through the stores and learn as much as we can in the short time we have. Toward the other end of the street, there is a church, a house of the period, and then a blacksmith shop. The most interesting is the house – with history of a family named Hardesty who lived there. In early 1900s, the Hardesty daughter married Fred Harvey who owned and ran the Dodge City hotel and restaurant in the train station. The house is full of period furniture, including two pianos and an organ.
We discover that the grassy area in front of “Front Street” is to be the site of a free concert tonight given by a band based around a singer named Sarah Dunn. While we were first walking on the boardwalk that lined Front Street, we were greeted by a very friendly puppy who desperately wanted to be petted. He was shortly joined by a young woman who apologized for the dog’s interest. It turns out that woman is the singer Sarah, only we don’t find this out until we see the band rehearsing as we are leaving. She is very good, both singing and playing the violin with a group of five other musicians. We decide not to stay for the country music concert, though it probably would have been fun!
Tomorrow we leave early to get to Ft Larned, and ultimately to Independence, Missouri.